Peter Leithart witnessed the very recent debate between Doug Wilson and Andrew Sullivan on the issue of gay marriage. I encourage you to read his take-aways from the debate. Leithart doesn’t say in so many words that Wilson lost the debate, but he does say that he came away deeply impressed with the difficulties that Christians have defending a biblical view of marriage. Leithart is convinced that Wilson’s arguments (and ours!) are not going to gain traction with secular people. Here’s why:
Perhaps Christians are called to do no more than speak the truth without worrying about persuasiveness. Perhaps we have entered a phase in which God has closed ears, so that whatever we say sounds like so much gibberish. We can depend on the Spirit to give ears as He pleases.
Whatever the political needs of the moment, the longer-term response to gay marriage requires a renaissance of Christian imagination. Because the only arguments we have are theological ones, and only people whose imaginations are formed by Scripture will find them cogent.
I have become increasingly convinced that Leithart is correct. The very best non-religious arguments in favor of traditional marriage are those coming from the natural law folks, and they are not convincing the unconvinced. That leaves us with the biblical case for traditional marriage, which has been roundly rejected by our culture as well. There’s nothing new about unbelievers suppressing the truth in unrighteousness (Rom. 1:18), so we shouldn’t be surprised when arguments from both general and specific revelation are rejected by the world.
The roots of our rebellion against God’s order run really deep in the West, and it will take a miracle to re-open a decadent people’s eyes to God’s rule over human sexuality (John 3:3). At this point, there’s no elected official, law, or public policy that will change that basic reality. We are jacking-up concrete when we make public arguments in favor of marriage. The only “renaissance of the imagination” that will give us a greater hearing comes on the other side of regeneration.
It’s not just Doug Wilson who’s losing this debate. We all are. This intransigence has been a long time coming, and we are reaping what we have sown. I am praying and hoping for a break in the clouds—an unanticipated Josiah moment. It could happen. If it does, it will be nothing short of a third Great Awakening.